Belgium: Construction unions decry employers’ disregard of COVID-19 measures

14 April 2020 13:21

While workers’ health is the primary concern of our Belgian affiliates ACV BiE and CG FGTB amidst the pandemic, this does not seem to be the case for the construction employers’ organisations, that refuse to take into account the preventive measures on the spread of COVID-19 demanded by trade unions. For the unions, this attitude from employers is totally irresponsible and unacceptable.

While some companies have taken steps to protect workers’ health on construction sites in this time of crisis, others have not. The unions asserted that workers should be allowed to return to work on a voluntary basis. They explained that workers have the right to refuse work where health and safety are in danger.   

It was reported that even as the government set up an experts’ committee to define the scope of the possible lifting of the country’s lockdown, construction employers are already putting pressure to put the industry under the category of “essential work” to restart its operations. 

ACV BiE and CG FGTB said that it is necessary to draw up a list of the industry’s urgent work and ensure occupational health and safety standards before worksites are allowed to resume operations. They said that if these conditions are not met, the unions will refuse to go back to work.

At the present time, employers have refused to list the types of work that are deemed essential. They will also not resume social consultations until mid-May, to the great concern of trade unions, the workers themselves and family members.  See press release in FR here.